Health Insurance…


One of the first things to organise when moving to German is insurance. Health and liability insurances are necessities. Then there is life insurance, disability insurance, car insurance, renters insurance, pension planning ….There are literally hundreds of insurance companies to chose from (both for state or private healthcare). We found it was easier to go through an independent insurance advisor / broker (who are obliged to find you the best deal and are not employed by an insurance company). I worked with two great English speaking brokers who are experts at helping expats figure out the minefield of German insurance, pensions and more. They were both very patient at explaining the systems, dealing with issues (for example I was pregnant when coming to Gemany so was declined by three health insurance companies at first), not to mention helping with the paperwork.  Their websites are full of great information and they are both active on the toytowngermany message boards giving out advice. Best of all they both have a great sense of humour!

John Gunn

Patrick Ott 



Open Gallery Evening

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ARTUR!4 Bielefeld Gallery hopping night

Friday October 11 19:00 – 24:00

7 galleries are participating and the evening of events can be found here


There has quite a bit of discussion this year as to whether Bielefeld is a city that supports culture. Neue Westfälische held a series of lunch conversations in the Sou Fujimotos wood house outside the Kunsthalle to discuss the topic. They make interesting reading.



Nord Park

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Nord Park is a very pleasant place to visit in the summer and in the fall too.  It has a huge open lawn in the middle, lovely old trees, flower garden,  a pond, mini golf and a great children’s playground. The café is also a nice place to relax and admire the view or let the kids run around on the grass.


Upcoming September Events

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Just a quick note to let you know about a few upcoming events that I look forward to every year.

Event number one is this weekend is the Schildesche Stadtfest with one of my favorite fleamarkets of the year and Carnival with rides and games. The festival runs from Friday until Sunday and includes shows and concerts as well. The weather looks pretty good, so it should be fun. Just take the Line 1 to the end at Schildesche and follow the people going down the street. You will not be able to miss it.

Event number two is a special day sponsored by Bielefeld and Hereford called ohne auto mobil. On September 29 (Sunday), the entire 10 kms between Bielefeld and Hereford will be closed off from 10am to 6pm to autos for bicyclers, rollerbladers, walkers, etc. The last time they had this event was a few years ago and I can really recommend it. The length is not hilly and there are plenty of stops along the way for bathroom breaks and water. At the end in Hereford is a festival. Last time we biked to Hereford, had some lunch and then biked home, but of course if you have smaller kids, you can take the train home from Hereford. More information can be found here:


Autumn is in the air, but we can still have fun outside!! See you there!

Trailing Spouses expat group


We are a group of creative foreign spouses whose partners are either from Bielefeld or moved to work / study here. We meet regularly to discuss our expat experiences, offer support to each other and do art activities (no art experience required!). We are also open to new members –  you don’t need to be a trailing spouse, all expats welcome. Whether you are new in Bielefeld or have been here for longer than you can remember and are interested in joining us, we can be reached at trailing.spouses (@) googlemail.com

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KITA/ crèche

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When we arrived to Bielefeld, one of the hardest things to deal with was to organize child care for our two kids. One of the kids was bit over one year old, and the other just over four. There is no two ways about it, it is difficult to get a child care place in BI, even the locals wait for years. I will list here couple of things that we came across which might be helpful to you. It would be great if other Trailing Spouses who have kids could add to this so that we would get a rounded view on the topic.

I start with the facts first. When you want a place in a KITA (crèche) or with a Tagesmutter (private person who minds kids at their home, these places are often for the kids aged 1-3) you need to apply  through the Jugendamt . (They are located at the Rathouse) The application has to be in early at the year, around February, to get a place for next September. The problem is, that you can’t apply for a place if you don’t have an address, and you will not have an address until you move to the country and then it will be too late to apply for the KITA. We did apply in time but they literally disregarded the paperwork as we didn’t have an address in Germany yet, this is a real fault on the system. So what to do? I found only one method  worked, pester them! Go to the Jugendamt every morning to talk to the person who will be taking care of your particular case. Go every morning, be eager, and don’t take a no for an answer. We didn’t speak ANY German when we did this, neither they spoke any English but I got my message through.

In the Jugendamt they will more than likely give you a list of KITAS that you can visit. I never figured out what was the point of seeing EVERY SINGLE KITA in BI if we were not obviously going to get a place in them. However, we visited them, filled tens and tens of forms (not nice when you don’t speak the language) and were finally told that we will get a place the following year, that was 14 months later. That’s when I turned on the pressure a bit more and the tone of my voice might not have been my nicest.

I also needed to provide a letter to proof that we need a place because I was working. I almost flip my top because of this, as I don’t see the place in a KITA important so that I can go to a hair appointment. Instead I believe that  KITA is absolutely vital for my active kids to meet  peers and have a chance on integration and learning the language. I have heard that not all families are asked to provide this letter, but if you are, just lie. Say that you are a writer/poet/distance worker… or that you are going to take a full time language course, this should be enough to get a place. Eventually. If you are working, then you possibly provide a letter from your employer.

Locals will tell you that you are not going to get a place in a KITA, the Uni personnel are going to say that same. Just don’t take no for an answer if you want a place.  Apply and be keen, and ring, and visit…

The Uni has a KITA for the staff kids, but it is very hard to get a place in there as well. However, many of us eventually got places in there and we love it. Maybe some other Trailing Spouse could write a bit about how they went on about getting a place there?

In my next post I will talk about the ways the KITAS and Tagesmutters operate. They are great in my opinion, well worth going though the trouble of getting a place.


More second hand shopping

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Two tips for second hand shops from PollyEster

A new Oxfam has opened in Obernstrasse (Altstadt). They shut early on Tuesday, as they are still short of volunteers and have a small selection of English books as well. There are mainly clothes and shoes, but some little things and cds/dvds as well.

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For a bigger selection of English books (and other languages) check out the used book store on the corner of Stapenhorststrasse and Melanchtonstrasse (opposite Burger / Oetker Park).




Thanks PollyEster!


How to block your credit/debit card:

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Agni sent me the useful tip below: (You can substitute Sparkasse with the name of your own bank)

I do not know why but when you attend Language Course, there you can learn all except the most important and useful things e.g. how to block your lost or stolen credit/debit card . But because of this problem I realised that my German is not as bad as I thought. Even when the bank’s language is very complicated. For all who would like to know how to do it the most important sentence is:

Ich möchte meine EC-Karte (SparKasse-Karte) sparren lassen. (sparkasse tele: (+49) 116 116).

Good luck!!!!

Sparkasse – is the most popular bank in Germany and it is little bit like home/regional/local bank. The region has some benefits from the bank.


Thanks Agni!

Bio-land Hofladen

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Eleni gave me a recommendation for a good bio farm shop at the last welcome center International spouses and partners coffee morning.

Der Köckerhof – Babenhauser Straße 3033619 Bielefeld

Di. bis Fr.: 9 – 19 Uhr
Samstag: 9 – 14 Uhr

They have also turned a circus wagon into cafe